#TD Pandemic Preparedness
📷: A photo of a COVID-19 vaccination centre in Singapore. [Creative Commons]
Do you remember the day COVID-19 first hit our shores?
Singapore reported our first case of COVID-19 on 23 January 2020 and it set off a swift series of measures to contain the spread of the virus: quarantines, contact tracing, travel bans, work and learning from home, vaccinations, safe distancing, the “Circuit Breaker” which commenced in April 2020.
Singapore emerged strongly from the pandemic because our approach included four fundamentals: early detection, better diagnostics, effective vaccinations and social responsibility. We helped set up and maintain a global Covid-19 genomic database, and we were one of the first few countries to develop a PCR test kit now widely used around the world.
Indeed, we had learnt many hard lessons from the contagions that affected us in the past — for example, SARS in 2003 and H1N1 in 2009 — and we know that the Covid-19 pandemic will not be our last.
In fact, the chances of pandemics are now higher because of the destruction of natural habitats and climate change. Some studies show that Southeast Asia is most at risk of the next pandemic – due to higher population density, environmental changes, shifts in human-animal interaction and increasing human mobility. Singapore’s stance is one of eternal vigilance — we invest significantly in R&D, established the National Programme for Research in Epidemic Preparedness and Response (PREPARE), working across institutions at home and the world to build expertise.
In June 2022, Singapore’s Duke-NUS Centre for Outbreak Preparedness (COP) was launched to further strengthen regional research capacity, cooperation, and preparedness. The Duke-NUS COP will collaborate with key public sector agencies, research institutions, and overseas partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Today, restrictions are lifting across the world as the pandemic comes under control. While we may no longer feel the urge to say “stay safe” when signing off on our communications, some habits are worth keeping for always, such as regular hand-washing, wiping down personal belongings, and staying updated on our vaccinations. We can all play our part - together, we keep Singapore strong.
#WeAreTotalDefence #TogetherWeKeepSingaporeStrong #TotalDefence #StrongerTogether #NeverAgainSG